The days after that we taught them all we could, and they learned. The greatest thing about coaching girls is that most of them don't know anything to start with. They don't have any bad habits and you are even. When you coach boys, you start with what they've got and they don't ever get very much better than they were to begin with, but our girls got better all the time.
We taught them one-three-one and two-one-two zone defenses, a shifting man-for-man and a full-and a half-court press and they learned it all. We had trouble teaching them foul shots because it's hard to teach a foul shot if you can't touch the person you're teaching, but some of them learned that, too. Nobody but Nell could shoot from the outside, but we weren't worried. We drilled them so hard on the fast-break that we weren't going to worry about outside shooting. Chia would take the rebound and pass it on the outlet to Robin or Nell and then they'd pass up the middle to Betsy and they'd come down that way and score. It was a beautiful thing to see with those three girls coming down the court with their hair flying and then a quick bounce pass and it would be in for two. Robin had a nice move from the right and Betsy was something up the middle with a hanging, over-the-front-of-the-rim layup, but the prettiest was long-legged, left-handed Blair taking that one big step and gliding up to the basket like a slender bird taking off.
The five of them were really good and they got better and better until we had to play six against them in the scrimmages to make it close. Then we tried them against the freshman boys and had them beat with the fast break until they started playing one man back all the time. Even so they only beat us by eight.
Our first game was against the girls from South Paterson. It was away and we went there on the bus with all the girls singing and Pete and me dressed in suits. We were still doing some coaching, sitting on the arms of the seats, but then we got there and went into the gym. Betsy took the girls into the locker room and Pete and I went over to meet the other coach.
She looked just the opposite of our Miss Blander-Quist. This one looked like a golf ball, and I began to wonder if all lady coaches looked like pieces of athletic equipment. I really wanted to meet the one who looked like a lacrosse stick or even a catcher's mitt and that isn't as crazy as it sounds, because the assistant coach standing next to the golf ball looked like a football.
As usual, Pete was doing the talking and I tried to find something to do so I walked around and checked the out-of-bounds lines and the foul lanes and the nets and then Betsy and the girls came up and started the layup drill.
Pete came over and we sat down and waited for the officials. Finally they came up out of the locker room and you had to wonder about them. They both had regulation black-and-white-striped shirts, or maybe they're called blouses, and long white skirts and high black sneakers that looked like Dolph Schayes wore them, and they were exactly what you would think a couple of guards from a women's penitentiary would look like. They were the two toughest looking women I had ever seen and they gave us the kind of look that asked, "Where did you escape from?" They really looked more at me than Pete, but they looked at him, too. You could see right away that they didn't think too much of men coaching girls' basketball.
Betsy went out and talked to them and then came back and we all got in a huddle and held hands and then they went out for the opening tap.
Chia tapped to Betsy and Betsy threw a long crosscourt pass to Blair who went in and laid it up with that move that looked like a deer taking a fence at the edge of a field and we were up two. They took the ball out and ran into our press and then it really started. Before we could get Betsy's attention and tell her to take off the press, we were up 20 to nothing. Then we were up 36 to two and we put in the second string. When it was over we had won 54-14 and people were looking at us. It was embarrassing and Pete and I didn't know what to do. Pete went over and shook hands with the other coach and said something about how any team can have an off day but she wasn't very happy and I just sort of sneaked out of the gym.
And it went on like that. We devastated every team we played and the word must have got around because after a while the lady coaches would hardly talk to us before a game, and never after one. We won them all, seven in a row, and we had only one more game on the schedule. Pete was even talking about finding some kind of tournament and maybe renting a bus and barnstorming around the Midwest.